Hungry and Humble
The theme of a recent CARSTAR conference I attended was: “Hungry and humble.” Those qualities are often held in tension or played against each other, even if just in our own minds. How can you be both hungry and humble? Hungry would suggest aggressive, forceful, setting big goals, going for it! And humble suggests meekness, possibly even weakness or uncertainty.
Here’s where the ideas come together for me. Hungry implies a big goal. Humble is the recognition that we have no idea how to reach that goal. And I would suggest if your goal is easily attainable, you may want to reach higher.
Hungry: I have a couple mentors who have taught me a lot about this. Greg, my COO, has taught me that to have a really big goal––and by big, I mean one that actually scares you a bit––forces our brains to think in a new way. It’s where breakthrough comes from. Another mentor is Dan Sullivan from Strategic Coach, who has organized his entire group coaching practice around the idea of “10x thinking and acting.” What both of these men have taught me is that breakthrough thinking starts in our minds. We need dreams and goals that spark our imagination. That is the only way we will ever get to something really big.
So, for hungry, perhaps a very simple exercise to begin with in your business is to imagine 10x growth. What would it look like to 10x the square footage you operate in? What might it be like to 10x your revenue? What about net profit growing 10x what it is today? Maybe you’re in a stage of life or energy level where that all just feels overwhelming and doesn’t tap anything for you. Well then what about 10x-ing the amount of time off that you have?
Now is the point to hit the 10x goal and if you don’t, then just to go through life feeling like a failure? No, of course not! 10x is just an ideal that we move toward and we celebrate each win along the way. Perhaps we only 2x. Great! That’s double the previous result. We celebrate that and don’t berate ourselves for the remaining 8x that we didn’t do. And goals can change and it’s important to check in often to make sure that what you are pursuing is something that you still want to pursue.
Now, once we’ve done this process and landed on a very lofty goal that represents “hunger,” how does humble play into that? Isn’t having big goals and performing better than others the opposite of humility? No, no, no! I was stuck in this thinking for a long time.
Humility literally means “of the earth.” At its root is the word “humus,” which in Latin literally means “dirt” or “earth.” So humility is staying grounded. Not forgetting that we have to walk on the earth like everyone else. We don’t float or fly like angels. We are grounded. Our bodies touch the earth every day, all day.
Humility is looking at a large goal and saying, “I have no idea how I’m going to get there.” There is no place for bravado or overconfidence or “faking it until you make it.” We just simply admit we don’t know exactly how to get there and then we get to work with our best guess and best efforts and try to find the strongest and best levers that we can. And if what we try doesn’t work, we don’t take it personally. It’s OK to fail. Failing is literally a part of the process on the way to success. It’s like when someone lifts weights they “go to failure.” They go until they can’t lift anymore, can’t do one more repetition. They may need a spotter. Another indicator of humility is being willing to be helped. Going it alone is not humility. In essence, then, humility is admitting you don’t know how but you’re willing to try. Pride is often the thing that keeps us from attempting great things. We don’t want to look/feel/be like a failure so it’s easier to not dream big or attempt great things.
How can you stay hungry and humble?